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Green Bay Woman Critical After OR Bus Fire


TILLAMOOK, Ore. (WTAQ) - A Green Bay woman is in critical condition following a tour bus fire Sunday in Oregon.

71-year-old Rosemary Lou Dionne suffered burns and smoke inhalation during evacuation through an emergency exit on the bus.

The driver of a Raz Transportation bus noticed smoke and flames coming from the front dash area while driving on Highway 101 Sunday afternoon. State Police say the driver stopped the bus on the shoulder of the highway, and the flames quickly began to spread inside the bus when he opened the door.

33 people were aboard the bus. Seven others were treated and released at Tillamook General Hospital for minor injuries.

According to UW-Green Bay, all of the travelers affected by Sunday’s bus fire in Oregon are members of the Learning in Retirement Institute. The travel tour was not part of the program’s standard course offerings, but rather an additional, ad hoc trip that LIR members organized using an outside travel agency. LIR is an independently directed organization both distinct from the University yet strongly part of the institution. 

“LIR has nearly 1,000 members, and each and every one is part of our larger University family,” said Steve VandenAvond, UW-Green Bay associate provost for outreach and adult access. “Many LIR members are alumni, former UWGB employees or community supporters. We share the thoughts and concerns of all the friends and families of those affected by this incident.” 

Among those on this week’s bus tour of the Pacific Northwest was one of UW-Green Bay’s most prominent alumni, Keith Pamperin, who traveled with his wife, Judith. The Pamperins were seated in the front of the bus and were among the first to evacuate before the fire spread quickly toward the rear of the motor coach. University friends of the couple called today to confirm they were OK after receiving news of the incident; the Pamperins had mentioned plans for a Portland trip at last week’s dedication of Keith Pamperin Hall. 

Because the travel tour was arranged independently, as an ad hoc activity apart from the fall schedule of LIR classes, details related to registrations, travel rosters, and payments were handled by tour participants dealing directly with their travel agency.